Cheese for Winter Soups
My father's all time favorite meal was soup. He loved it at lunch and dinner. He had no real favorite - the one he was eating was the one he loved best. Preparing soups makes me think of him and the wonderful memories of the smells of soup permeating the house. Soup can be a simple or complex meal to produce but once it is made, I have a special way of making the recipe your very own: cheese!
There are so many great soups out there - and a lot of excellent soup recipes
on our site. Here are a few classic winter soups along with suggestions for my favorite value added ingredient, cheese.
Butternut Squash Soup
I really like the classically fall flavor of butternut squash. Sweet and nutty soups are winners for fighting the chill in the air. I really like creamy and salty flavors with sweet. I dress this soup up with Feta crumbled on top prior to serving. These flavors blend together really well and the texture of the soup and the feta is a perfect combination. Let me know what you think!
Carrot, Apple and Ginger Soup
Another soup on the sweet side. The flavor of ginger is unmistakable and the light refreshing sweetness of the carrot and apple makes for an interesting twist on the fall harvest. Robusto is an aged cheese from Holland with nutty flavors and fruity overtones. It's great on its own but when shredded on this soup, it provides a fabulous level of complexity. Watch out ginger!
Black Bean Soup
I love a nice black bean soup. This is a soup that will fill you up but it often needs an extra KICK. The perfect combination is a slice of Pepper Jack! The cheese is smooth and creamy and the peppers give the soup that added punch. For those faint of heart, I would suggest a slice of Monterey Jack instead. I put the soup in a bowl and cover the soup with the slice of cheese. It is my Texas version of French Onion Soup.
French Onion Soup
Speaking of French onion soup, this is a great soup that will impress all of your friends. Le Gruyere is a traditionally produced cheese from Switzerland. Made in copper vats, this cheese is complex and nutty. The flavors of the onions really marry well with the nutty Le Gruyere. Shred the cheese on top and put the soup under the broiler for a few minutes until the top begins to brown. I cannot think of a better way to entertain my friends and family at the holidays.
Whether vegetarian, chicken or beef there is nothing like a hearty chili to warm up a chilled body. I really like to add a sharp white cheddar cheese to chili. My favorite is Grafton Classic Reserve from Vermont. The cheese has a nice acidity on the finish that pairs well with the spiciness of the chili ingredients. The cheese is shredded on top and the creaminess blends into the thick paste. I can see enjoying this in front of the fireplace on a crisp afternoon.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
This soup really calls for a cheese that will spice it up. I like the thought of blue crumbled cheese sprinkled on just before serving. The soup flavors of the woods will be brightened up by the rich piquant flavors of a nice and creamy blue cheese. This is a real change of pace soup and all of your friends will comment about your thinking outside of the box.
As you can see, there are many ways to add unique flavors and accents to wintry meals. I like to use any leftover cheeses to add flavor to my next meal. We all find leftover pieces of cheese in the refrigerator from time to time and this is a creative way to use a cheese to invent a new style of menu. I am sure you all have great ideas and I look forward to reading about some of them!